When then-freshman Jordan Carter first signed up for the all-male “Man Team” missions trip headed to Tanzania back in the fall of 2008, he had a revolutionary idea: create a team calendar (much like Sports Illustrated did every year) with hilarious poses of the guys on the team and sell the calendars to help fund the trip.
Carter’s idea was quickly rejected, but that didn’t stop him from proposing the idea the next year when he served as the Man Team’s assistant team leader. But the idea was again dismissed as unfeasible.
When Carter sat down with Man Team as the new team leader during a brainstorming session in mid-November 2010, he presented the idea once more.
“For the first time, I thought it was possible [to make the calendar],” Carter said.
According to sophomore Joe Ninowski, the fundraising chair for the team, the proposal for a calendar almost fizzled out again, but he didn’t want to let it die.
“I couldn’t get the idea out of my mind,” Ninowski said. “At our next meeting, I helped push the idea. I knew that if we planned the calendar out with great detail, we could make it look great. [Carter] agreed, and before we knew it, we were making a calendar.”
Over Thanksgiving Break, Ninowski worked out the specifics of locations, actions and props for each month’s pose, and when he returned, he recruited the help of junior Chris Barker to take the photographs.
Then the scheduling battle began.
“Getting 10 guys all together for one photo shoot” was not an easy task, Carter said.
With one week before finals remaining, they could only find one time slot late in the week when all the guys could be together in order to get the 13 needed photos.
Arriving with suitcases of costumes and props in hand, the team met at 5:30 a.m. Dec. 4 to shoot the pictures at different locations around campus. They had to be finished before the beginning of finals at noon.
From musical instruments to hunting bows and even a small boat, the team had needed a great variety of props for their different themes. But none of them was as unique as the one needed for the calendar’s February theme, “MANTEAM is Sensitive.”
The team had originally wanted a live puppy in the picture but hadn’t been able to find one. Strangely enough, however, the team’s assistant team leader Aaron Quinn had received a call from a friend the night before asking if he could watch the friend’s puppy, named Nibblets, until the next day. Nibblets made the picture perfect.
But the work of pulling together the calendar was far from over.
Chris Barker, also a graphic designer, volunteered to create the layout of the calendar in addition to taking the pictures. Working late into the night and half of the following day, Barker finished the calender on the afternoon of Dec. 5 while Ninowski searched for an affordable printer.
During the previous week, one team member, junior Jordan Lewis, had offered to make the initial investment to print the calendars.
“[He invested the money] with faith that it would be returned to him,” Carter said.
After searching around for a printer, Ninowski remembered an old connection.
“I realized that my best friend’s father from back home worked at a print shop,” Ninowski said. “After contacting him, he dropped down the price of printing our calendars twice to $1,550, with no charge for shipping needed.”
After just three weeks from idea to final product, Ninowski had the calendars in hand.
Each team member had 50 calendars shipped to him at home. By selling the calendars over Christmas break, the team raised almost $3,000, easily paying for the entire printing cost.
Returning from break, the real buzz for Man Team calendars began.
On Jan. 4, Carter got a call to come to the seventh floor, where President Rutland bought a calendar from Carter personally. Following endorsements from public relations, Student Association President Dexter Sullivan, and President Rutland in chapel, calendar sales took off.
The team then came up with the concept of the “Man Team Wall of Fame” photo album posted on Facebook with pictures of almost everyone who bought a calendar. Generating a lot of buzz on Facebook, the team also snatched endorsements from the on-campus television shows, “At Issue” and “The Loop.”
Then, the Board of Trustees Chair Mart Green bought a calendar for every board member, and the team was even able to sell a calendar to actor Stephen Baldwin.
“It’s grown beyond my wildest imagination,” said Carter.
But the focus of the excitement is still on the proper subject, according to Carter.
“[Through the Wall of Fame] we were able to make the product and the mission the celebrity, and not the team,” Carter said.
Assistant Director of Outreach Ministries Bobby Parks said he thinks the calendars were a creative and effective fundraising idea.
“This is the first team that we know of that’s done a calendar,” Parks said. “They’ve been one of our most successful teams for fundraising this year.”
Of the $28,000 that the team needs to raise, they have already raised almost half of that number, well ahead of most other missions teams at the current time, according to Parks.
Carter gave God the credit for the tremendous success of the calendar, saying God told him, “Give me the credit, and I’ll give you the favor.”
“It’s not about us,” Carter said. “It’s about the things we do for Christ.”
By Bryce Merkl